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Floyd County

African American rural settlements documented:  3

Though often remembered for its prolific Underground Railroad activity, Floyd County has a historic pedigree that pre-dates the Revolutionary War victories of George Rogers Clark, who received the land in return for his successes. Immediately after the war, he sold parcels to settlers flooding into the region. The county grew rapidly during the 1800s—attracting newcomers of French, German, Irish and African American descent. 

Early census records confirm a definite black presence of farmers, laborers, river workers and household workers living in town and country settlements.  There was also an entrepreneurial class that, although comparatively small in number, enjoyed a degree of success for two or three generations. All resulted in what appears to be several settlements in Floyd County, most largely forgotten today. During their lifespan, the hamlets were home to a large free black population that would exert its spirit of independence long after slavery ended. 

Some of the surnames associated with Floyd County’s African American settlements include Boyd, Burch, Carter, Clark, Cook, Edwards, Finley, Finney, Fulton, Hagan, La-Force, Locklayer, Martin, Melton, Ross, Stinson, Turner, Walker, and Weaver. Though more research will probably solidify the identification of specific black rural settlements, occupations, population numbers, and known descendants make it clear that there was at least one rural community in the following townships: Franklin, Lafayette, and New Albany. 

Cemeteries where blacks were buried: 

Franklin Township: Finley Cemetery 

Lafayette Township: Stinson Cemetery

New Albany Township: Thomas Henson Cemetery, Fairmeade Cemetery, Ross Cemetery, McClasson Cemetery, Freedomland Cemetery, Bailey Cemetery, Dawson (Flint) Cemetery, Slave and Indian Cemetery. 

Bibliography

Bureau of the United States Census, National Archives & Records. Indiana Federal Population Census Schedules, Volume: Reel 0013 – 1820.  Clark, Dearborn, Floyd, Franklin, Gibson, Jackson, Jefferson, Pike, Posey, and Randolph Counties. Accessed on August 22, 2014.

Bureau of the United States Census, National Archives & Records, Indiana Federal Population Census Schedules, and Volume: Reel 0028 – 1830. Clark, Jefferson, Spencer, Marion, Crawford, Warrick, Delaware, Perry, Floyd, Shelby Counties. Accessed on August 22, 2014.

Bureau of the United States Census, National Archives & Records, Indiana Federal Population Census Schedules, and Volume: Reel 0079 – 1840. Fayette, Floyd, Elkhart Counties. Accessed on August 23, 2014.

Bureau of the United States Census, National Archives & Records, Indiana Federal Population Census Schedules, and Volume: Reel 00145 – 1850. Floyd, Fountain Counties. Accessed on August 22, 2014.

Bureau of the United States Census, National Archives & Records, Indiana Federal Population Census Schedules, and Volume: Reel 00257 – 1860. Floyd, Fountain Counties. Accessed on August 22, 2014.

Bureau of the United States Census, National Archives & Records, Indiana Federal Population Census Schedules, and Volume: Reel 00145 – 1870. Floyd, Fountain Counties. Accessed on August 22, 2014.

Bureau of the United States Census, National Archives & Records, Indiana Federal Population Census Schedules, and Volume: Reel 00145 – 1880. Floyd, Fountain Counties. Accessed on August 22, 2014.

Deed Transfers of Property from Noah and Elizabeth Beauchamp to Cesar Finley (Franklin Township, Book D page 453, September 8, 1831) and to Joseph Finley and His Heir Josiah Finley, (Book T, pages 453-454, first entered on May 15, 1847--finalized April 18, 1848).  Available at the Floyd County Recorder Office, New Albany, Ind. 

Deed Transfers of Property from Henry Collins and Elizabeth Beauchamp to Cesar Finley (Lafayette Township, Book O, page 186, September 1, 1840). Available at the Floyd County Recorder Office, New Albany, Ind. 

Gresham, John M. Biographical and Historical Souvenir for the Counties of  Clark, Crawford, Harrison, Floyd, Jefferson, Jennings, Scott, and Washington, Indiana. Chicago: Chicago Printing Co., 1889.  

“Group clears Black Family’s 19th Century Cemetery,” Courier Journal, Sunday, October 17, 1999. Section B, page 1.

Kleber, John E. The Encyclopedia of Louisville. Frankfort, Ky.: University of Kentucky Press, 2000. 

Peters, Pam. The Underground Railroad in Floyd County, Indiana.  Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc. 2001. 

Peters, Pam. A History of the Enslaved Fugitive and the Underground Railroad as it Relates to New Albany-Floyd County, Indiana. New Albany, Ind.: Pam Peters, 1999. 

Southern Indiana Genealogical Society, Floyd County Cemeteries: Alphabetic by Site Name. 2000. Accessed June 14, 2014.

Audrey C. Werle “Research Notes on Indiana African American History,” M 792, William Henry Smith Memorial Library, Indiana Historical Society, Indianapolis, Indiana.

Wolf, Shirley.  “Privately Owned African American Cemeteries,” Paper presented by Shirley Wolf.  (No date). Available at the Floyd County/ New Albany Township Public Library in New Albany, Indiana.

By Martina Nichols Kunnecke, July 30, 2014